Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

MOFA on Taiwan’s status

In a commentary by James Wang (王景弘) that appeared in the Taipei Times, the legal status of the Cairo Declaration was called into question (“Distortions about Cairo Declaration aid China,” Feb. 5, page 8). To prevent similar arguments from causing confusion in the international community over Taiwan’s status, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) would like to provide the following clarification and ensure an accurate understanding of the facts.

I. The historical significance of the Cairo Declaration: At a summit held in Cairo on Nov. 23, 1943, the leaders of the Republic of China (ROC), the UK and the US agreed that the territories Japan had stolen from China, including Manchuria, Formosa (Taiwan) and the Pescadores (Penghu), should be restored to the Republic of China. The terms of the agreement were published on Dec. 1 that same year in a joint communique that became widely known as the Cairo Declaration.

In July 1945, the ROC, the UK, the US and the then-Soviet Union issued the Potsdam Proclamation, stipulating that the terms of the Cairo Declaration were to be carried out. Moreover, the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, signed on Sept. 2 that year, clearly states Japan’s acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation and, by extension, the Cairo Declaration.

II. The legal status of the Cairo Declaration: The Cairo Declaration stands as a firm commitment by the leaders of the UK, the US and the ROC over the disposition of Japanese territories after World War II, following which the ROC government duly sent troops to Taiwan in 1945 to accept the Japanese surrender and recover the land.

Furthermore, its provisions were again accepted by Japan in the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951. Taiwan and Penghu were formally returned to the Republic of China in accordance with the Treaty of Peace between the ROC and Japan of 1952.

Although the declaration is not a “treaty” or an “agreement” in name, it was concluded in the 1978 Aegean Sea Continental Shelf case put before the International Court of Justice that a joint communique could be considered an international agreement. That the Cairo Declaration is an international agreement is therefore beyond doubt.

III. The concrete implementation of the terms of the Cairo Declaration reflects the desire of the countries involved to restore Taiwan and Penghu to the Republic of China: If the UK and the US did not believe that the Cairo Declaration was a legally binding pledge to the ROC, why did they not then take over Taiwan at the time of the Japanese surrender? Meanwhile, not a single country opposed the restoration of ROC nationality to the residents of Taiwan, and the official US position was recorded as being that it agreed to the retrocession of Taiwan and Penghu to the ROC.

Then-US president Harry Truman, for instance, stated in a press conference on Jan. 5, 1950, that “Formosa was surrendered to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek [蔣介石], and for the past four years the United States and other allied powers have accepted the exercise of Chinese [ROC] authority over the island.” This statement clearly reflects the US government’s position at the time.

IV. Taiwan’s legal status has been confirmed: Although certain government officials in the US, the UK and elsewhere argued in the 1950s that Taiwan’s status had yet to be decided, this position was borne out of practical politics and, since the 1970s, has failed to gain traction among governments around the world.

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